Frequently Asked Questions about Virgin Coconut Oil

1. How much coconut oil should one take daily to receive its health benefits?
The health benefits of coconut oil are mainly from the medium chain fatty acids (MCFAs). The best comparison in nature as to percentage of MCFAs being consumed in a diet is human breast milk. To equal the amount of MCFAs a nursing infant would receive in one day, an adult needs about 3.5 tablespoons of VCNO a day according to researchers.

2. Does VCNO need to be kept in the refrigerator, and how long does it last?
No, VCNO does not need to be kept in the refrigerator. In the Philippines and other tropical climates, where the ambiance air temperature is much higher than North America, people traditionally have not refrigerated coconut oil. Virgin Coconut oil is the least susceptible to oxidation of any plant oil. It’s natural antioxidants give it the longest shelf life of any plant oil. Virgin Coconut Oil made and stored in a lab at the University of the Philippines did not turn rancid for more than 3 years. Tropical Traditions VCNO has not been on the market that long yet, but a sample from one of the first batches made in 2001 is being tested every 6 months for oxidative break down, and it has so far shown none. We do recommend you store the oil out of direct sunlight.

3. Is your coconut oil heated in its processing?
Yes, Tropical Traditions VCNO is slightly heated at the end of the processing prior to packaging. This is to ensure that no moisture is present, and to draw all the oil out of the curds that are formed by the fermentation process. This heat is very low (less than boiling temperatures), and is for a very short duration (10-15 minutes). Commercial coconut oils, by contrast, undergo steam deodorization at temperatures of around 400 degrees. Traditional methods of making coconut oil naturally have always used heat in the process, and we are committed to honoring time-tested traditional methods that have nourished populations in the tropics for thousands of years.

4. Is VCNO destroyed by heat? What about enzymes?
No, coconut oil is NOT destroyed or changed chemically in anyway from its original form by using low heat. Unlike other plant oils, the medium chain fatty acids are very resistant to any change via heat. Even commercial oils heated to a very high temperature have their medium chain fatty acids kept in tact. This makes coconut oil one of the best oils to use in cooking, because it does not break down easily.

Many have expressed concern that even low-level heat can destroy enzymes and other beneficial nutrients in coconut oil. But one needs to consider that this is a tropical oil from a tropical plant grown in a very hot climate. The oil inside an airtight coconut still growing high up on a coconut tree will already see temperatures well above 100 degrees F. during its growing season. Laboratory tests done on our VCNO, for example, have shown levels of Vitamin E that are 30 times more than commercial RBD coconut oil. As to enzymes, they are present in the coconut meat but not in the oil. One would not want enzymes in the oil as it would break down the oil and cause it to go rancid. So there is no coconut oil on the market that would contain enzymes. You need to eat whole foods, like the coconut itself, to benefit from enzymes. All plant-based oils are separated from the plants they grew in, and do not contain appreciable amounts of enzymes.

5. Will cooking with VCNO cause it to become hydrogenated and toxic like hydrogenated oils?
No. Hydrogenation is an industrial process where hydrogen molecules are introduced to the oil to make it solid at room temperatures. It chemically alters the oil and creates harmful trans fatty acids. Cooking with VCNO does NOT introduce hydrogen into the oil or hydrogenate it. As stated above, VCNO is a very stable oil at even higher temperatures. However, it is best not to cook beyond the smoke point of VCNO, as this will begin to deteriorate the oil and turn it yellow. Once it has turned dark yellow, the oil should be discarded and no longer used.

6. How does one use VCNO?
There are many ways to use VCNO and incorporate it into one’s diet. Since it is a stable cooking oil, one can simply replace unhealthy oils in their diet with VCNO. Since it is a solid most of the time at room temperature or when refrigerated, it can be a butter or margarine substitute for spreads or for baking. Any recipe calling for butter, margarine, or any other oil can be substituted for VCNO. Some people do eat  it simply by the spoon full. VCNO can also be massaged into the skin for external applications. For more ideas on using VCNO, join the coconut-info discussion group at:http://groups.yahoo.com/group/coconut-info and search the archives.

7. How is VCNO different from other coconut oils found in health food stores?
When purchasing a healthy coconut oil, one must determine between “virgin” and “semi-refined.” The determining characteristic is the distinct aroma and taste of coconuts present in virgin coconut oils. Tasteless coconut oils are probably made from copra, not fresh coconuts. There are many ways of refining coconut oil made from copra, some more healthy than others. But virgin coconut oils start out with fresh coconuts, and do not need further refining as their natural antioxidant properties make them very stable oils. For more information about copra-based coconut oils and the different ways to make virgin coconut oils, click here.

8. Since farmers and families make your VCNO, are sanitary conditions in processing a concern?
No. On the contrary, our VCNO receives much more special care and attention than mass-produced machine-made coconut oil could ever receive. Every family approved to sell us VCNO must undergo stringent quality control training and have their home or facilities inspected. We set standards that they must abide by, such as how old the coconuts can be that are used (48 hours after harvesting), the type of coconuts, the instruments used for processing, like graters and presses, etc. Equipment used to produce the oil is dedicated to VCNO production only, and usually provided for by Mt. Banahaw Health Products Corp. Therefore the VCNO is completely kosher and clean. In addition, our producers are small family businesses that live in rural areas away from the pollution of the cities, like on Mt. Banahaw. To assure standards are maintained and that only the best quality oil is produced, all producers are organized into groups that are managed by overseers, which in turn are organized into groups that are managed by area managers. So when VCNO is delivered to our warehouse for packaging, it has already been inspected 3 times before final inspection at the warehouse prior to packaging into drums. Laboratory tests have continually confirmed that our traditional methods of testing the oil by sight (clarity), smell, and taste result in a very high quality oil. Some of the standards tested for in commercial oils, such a peroxide value (PV levels have consistently tested at nil or near 0 levels in our oil) , have actually tested better in our VCNO. This is due to the extreme care that is used from the selection of the coconuts used, to the actual making of the oil, and the complete removal of any moisture. We seriously doubt that any other coconut oil on the market has received such personal care, or could claim to have a higher quality or cleaner handling than our VCNO.

9. Are coconuts a nut, fruit, or vegetable?
Actually, they can be classified as all three in some form. The meat of the coconut is usually referred to as fruit, and the coconut itself is the nut, or seed, that will reproduce into a coconut palm tree if allowed to sprout and grow, and the oil made from coconuts is classified as a “vegetable oil” in terms of commodity trading.

10. Is your coconut oil organic?
Yes! We live in the community where most of the coconut oil is produced, and we can personally guarantee that the coconuts used to produce our oil are completely organic. In fact, almost any coconut oil can be classified as organic, since pesticides and fertilizers are not known among most coconut growers. They are not even available, and most of the world’s coconut growers are small family farmers that would be too poor to afford them even if they were available. Unfortunately, organic certification of coconut oil does NOT guarantee how that oil was processed, or if it came from copra. Some copra-based oils are certified as organic.

11. What is the amount of Omega 3 fatty acids in VCNO?
None. VCNO is not a source of Omega 3 fatty acids. These need to be supplemented in diet from elsewhere. The primary health benefits of coconut oil are the medium chain fatty acids.

12. Are there side effects to VCNO?
Yes, there could be, especially if your body is used to a low-fat diet regimen. Since lauric acid is antibacterial and anti-viral, there could also be “die-off” effects from the VCNO as these organisms are eliminated from the body. The most common side affect is diarrhea. While 3 Tbsp. is recommended as the daily dosage by some researchers, it is probably best not to start with that amount, or take it all at once. Spread it out over the course of the day, and reduce your intake if there are side effects. Like any food, some people could possibly have allergic reactions to VCNO as well, although it has traditionally nourished millions if not billions of people throughout Asia for thousands of years.

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